Blackburn Rovers will be looking to close the gap on the top two with a victory over Shrewsbury Town on Saturday afternoon at Ewood Park.
It’s a big top of the table clash at Ewood this Saturday, as 3rd place Rovers host 2nd place side Shrewsbury Town.
Whilst still unbeaten in 14 league games, Rovers only accumulated 6 points from a possible 12 over the festive period, with both away draws, at Northampton and Rotherham, labelled as missed opportunities.
After entering the Christmas and New Year period with a two-point gap to the automatic promotion places, we now sit 5 points behind tomorrow’s opponents.
Shrewsbury are also on an unbeaten run, having not lost for 7 games. The Shrews enjoyed a very positive festive period, keeping up the pressure on top of the table Wigan with 3 wins and a solitary draw, against first placed Athletic.
Rovers remain without long-term absentee Harry Chapman, whilst fellow patient Darragh Lenihan has got over a snag in his return from a foot problem that has seen him sidelined since the first game of the season and was back on the training pitch this week.
Tony Mowbray is also short of central midfield options, with Whittingham and Evans both ruled out this weekend. The former is out for at least a month – which may lead to another start for young Willem Tomlinson.
Marcus Antonsson is also out, for up to 6 weeks with an ankle problem. But, Rovers have moved quickly in the window to acquire another striker in order to tonic the Swede’s absence. Adam Armstrong has signed on loan from Newcastle until the end of the season.
A small, pacey striker may just be what Rovers need, with the reliance on big target men strikers, such as Danny Graham and Dominic Samuel, not bearing the fruits of its labour as of late.
Shrewsbury will only be missing Junior Brown. He suffered a season-ending injury in Salop’s game with Fleetwood in October.
The visitors are expected to make one change from their goalless FA Cup draw with West Ham, with Max Lowe (recently signed on loan from Derby) expected to come in for Omar Beckles.
Rovers’s Last 5: WDWDD
The unbeaten run remains, but points have definitely been dropped over Christmas. Missed chances meant we only got a point at Northampton, whilst poor defending late on meant we didn’t return from Rotherham with maximum.
Shrewsbury’s Last 5: WWDWW
The Shrews played a number of lower table teams over the Christmas period, with wins over Blackpool, Portsmouth, Southend and Oldham. Their only draw came at table-toppers Wigan Athletic.
Last meeting: Shrewsbury Town 1-1 Rovers – 23rd September 2017 – League One
Rovers’ last meeting with Shrewsbury ended 1-1, with Bradley Dack’s first goal for Rovers. His late equaliser at New Meadow cancelled out Toto Nsiala’s 57th-minute opener. It was one of Rovers’ worst performances of the season and we were lucky to take a point home from Shropshire – and even Tony Mowbray criticised the players.
Last meeting at Ewood Park: Rovers 1-2 Shrewsbury Town – 11th August 2015 – Football League Cup: Round One
The last meeting of the two sides at Ewood Park was in the Football League Cup. Shrewsbury won this first round tie, with goals from Collins and Barnett cancelling out Nathan Delfouneso’s goal for Rovers.
Whilst Armstrong is fit and ready to play, I feel he would make a bigger impact from the bench on Saturday. It will be a close game from minute one, as both sides look to gain an early initiative. Rovers need to be on the ball and attacking from the outset in order to gain maximum points.
But. I expect a draw with Tony Mowbray’s side struggling at home of late.
Prediction: Rovers 2-2 Shrewsbury Town
Rovers’ scorers: Dack and Graham
Shrewsbury’s scorers: Nsiala and Payne
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